The first National Range Day hosted by the Lone Butte Fish and Wildlife Association drew about 80 people last Saturday.
Designed to promote safe recreational firearm use, the event saw attendees try cowboy action shooting, rimfire pistol and rifle ranges and trap shooting.
Grayson Klassen, the association’s director of public relations, said the event was proposed by the Canadian Association for Firearm Rights. The association wanted to have ranges across the country hold the same event on the same day to promote solidarity within the shooting community. Previous open house events in Lone Butte in 2018-19 drew between 80 and 120 people.
“We want people who otherwise would not be exposed to firearms or shooting sports to have an opportunity to try it and see what it’s about,” Klassen said.
Owen and Macy Cunnigham traded in their pellet guns for a nine-mm pistol and a shotgun. Macy, 9, said she was familiar with guns but found it “new and exciting” to fire a shotgun, even if it was a little bit heavy for her.
“It’s just a good day to get outside and shoot some guns you wouldn’t normally get to shoot,” added her dad Ryan Cunningham.
Halina Quibell and Sabine Voss seized the opportunity to get in some free practice with new guns.
“The people are incredible, especially all the teachers who are helping us,” Voss said. “I was scared a little bit to shoot but now with this training today I love this.”
Quibell agreed that it was a good experience and said she loved that families were there, noting it’s especially important to teach gun safety to young people.
MLA Lorne Doerkson, who came out to the range by invitation, said he was happy to get the chance to shoot some clay pigeons again and speak to association members about gun laws and regulations.
“They’re certainly supportive of their own sport and they don’t want to lose that. I think a lot of people are concerned about what the federal government may propose and I don’t think we’re clear on that yet,” Doerkson said. “I think these folks, and so did I, enjoyed shooting clay pigeons today so I think they’re going to be very protective of their sport and good for them.”
Klassen said shooting sports are some of the safest in Canada and the association wanted to demonstrate that to the wider public. He said the recent gun bans have made people believe those who own firearms are bad people, which is not the case.
“Anybody that is introduced to a shooting sport in a safe responsible manner will come away amazed by how safe and enjoyable it is.”